It’s been a long time since I updated this toy review section! And almost as long since I actually wrote this review, and intended to post it – because the original opening line was, “someone knows what I like for christmas!” Yes, I wrote this back in January. Whoever drew my name out of the hat in my family’s kris-kringle got me Titans Return Sentinel Prime. I was really digging this figure for its colourscheme, which is even more lurid and beautiful in person than I can possibly capture with my meagre lighting setup. It’s like a Weiss bar, if the white part was the colour of a blood grapefruit.
Being a triple-changer covered in panels, I was expecting transformation to be a fiddly pain that I’d rarely bother attempting, but amazingly the exact opposite is true. He’s so easy to transform! You can swap between each mode in about thirty seconds flat, and it’s fun to do. Everything locks into place without struggling to align tabs or needing to re-jigger anything around.
Each mode works well on its own, and feels relatively kibble-free. The shuttle technically suffers from a bit of Universe Silverbolt syndrome, with an obvious robot torso forming the underside; however, it blends in well and it’s not something you’re going to notice. The train mode works a lot better than I was expecting it to – it looks a lot better in real life than in pictures and video reviews. My eye was immediately drawn to the folded-up-shuttle-bits on the top in those, but in hand, the thing is so long and the train detailing so attention-grabbing that my eye just slides past it. A lot of the detailing goes to tiny windows, doors and safety rails to indicate the size of the thing, which is completely at odds with the transparent yellow cockpit that Sentinel’s Headmaster partner sits in to fly the thing.
The robot mode has that classic-Optimus-Prime feel to it, which is actually pretty impressive when you remember that this is a straight-up repaint of Astrotrain. I actually wasn’t sold on this figure as Astrotrain, but now I have Sentinel Prime in hand… I kinda want the Astrotrain version as well. You can significantly change the figure’s silhouette by changing the angle of the back kibble (the shuttle wings and Headmaster cockpit), which locks into place in a few different configurations. The new paint scheme breaks up the mold in a completely different way, and it works impressively well. I didn’t realise this was a repaint of Astrotrain just from seeing the robot mode – I assumed it was a new Optimus mold they’d used.
There’s also a neat bit of engineering to give Astrotrain his distinctive shoulder-neck-nubbins while still letting him turn his head. As well as the standard Headmaster-head-doubles-as-main-figure-neck-joint-thing that’s standard on the Titans Return figures, the whole nubbins-and-head assembly sits on a swivelling piece in a recess into the torso. It’s tricky to describe, but you’ll see what I mean immediately from pictures. You can click the nubbins down to give Sentinel a more Optimus Primeish look, and flicking a lever on his torso pops them back into place. They’re spring loaded, so if you don’t have the head looking precisely straight forwards, the Headmaster’s legs get sproinged up when the nubbins pop out. This is funny, so I consider it less of a flaw and more of an added feature.
Sidenote: why can the nubbins be retracted? It doesn’t effect transformation, and they made a play feature out of shooting them back into place. Was Astrotrain sometimes depicted without them? I don’t remember that, but in fairness I haven’t watched the G1 cartoon in a while.
Ultimately, Sentinel Prime is just a really solid figure and borderline amazing as a triple-changer. Even if you’ve got this version of Astrotrain, your shelf won’t look doubled-up if you add him to it. Every time I think I’ve collected all the Transformers I could conceivably ever want, they do something to pull me back in.
Everyone knows that Masterpiece Grimlock is awesome by now. I feel like that’s a point that doesn’t need to be made here, but still is worth stressing, because it’s true. He’s just been re-released by TRU as I write this, which is how I got mine, and if you’re on the fence about him because of the changes they’ve made, consider this your cue to tip over the fence and crash down into the glorious next door’s flowerbed that is owning a giant 80s robot dinosaur.
A lot has been made about his green plastic neck, but I don’t even see the neck as being particularly green myself. Maybe if I squint at it really close up. But then again, I’m pretty red-green colourblind, so take my analysis on that with a pound of salt. His gold chrome is lush and deep, and even though he doesn’t have many paint apps, the few splashes of red, dark grey and silver chrome really make his grey plastic pop. I dunno how grey can really “pop,” and yet here we are. He’s like a big heavy diecast banana that’s just great to hold.
MP Grimlock’s transformation is the same as any other Grimlock – flip out the legs, pop the torso up, and fold the entire upper dino away into a backpack. I remember wishing the toes folded further back when I first saw pictures and videos of them, but in person, they look fine where they are. I was surprised.
I automatically assumed that I’d leave him in dinosaur mode for basically 90% of the time, but robot mode is actually really nice. I like the crown (this release doesn’t come with the tray of drinks, mind-transfer helmet or apron, but I’d have just left those in the box forever anyway).
The sword is visibly lit up from most angles when you plug it into his fist, as opposed to only a few select viewing angles like most toys with similar gimmicks. The gun won’t light up at all, though, which – I guess would be disappointing if I didn’t have the option of a LASER SWORD, so who cares? I’ve heard the original release’s gun had similar problems, regardless. It would have been nice to fix that, Hasbro, but HEY LASER SWORD.
Grimlock is one of the few Transformers characters whose name my mum remembers, because – for reasons I don’t know – she absolutely loves him. (Yes, my mum who wrote this.) I showed her this toy, and she said he looks like a kangaroo, and now I can’t unsee it.
I got some knock-off toys today for a couple of dollars.
The first is a knock-off of Transformers Animated Optimus Prime. It’s an enlarged version of the deluxe-size ‘Battle Begins’ Prime that came in the two-pack with Megatron and a DVD, blown up to roughly voyager-size. It’s not bad! The plastic feels good and solid, aside from his shoulders, and it even has the same battle-damaged paint decos, applied the same way. If it wasn’t for the cheap-feeling plastic on his shoulders, he’d be almost up to scratch.
How do these giant-size KOs happen? It’s equal parts an open and rhetorical question. Stealing the molds and copying them I can understand; but how do you enlarge a mold? Is there some 3D xeroxing machine that thieves are using to blow them up?
The second is this big jet thing, which at first I thought might be an obscure G1 Japan-only Transformer I didn’t recognise. After opening it, I actually think it might be something from Super Sentai – maybe this one? – but I don’t really know. That’s outside of my areas of expertise. Less rhetorical question: what is this thing based on?? Anyway, it splits into two robots.
The bigger one looks like a robot version of the Egyptian god Horus. The transformation is simple and mostly involves plugging the bird part onto the robot’s back, and flipping the bird (ha ha) head over the robot’s comically tiny head. The bird head can tilt back and function as a sort-of helmet, but it looks strange. I can’t tell if it’s stupid-strange or cool-strange; maybe it’s both? The feet are a lot of fun to transform, and involve sorta flipping them down and around twice on a double-joint. I get the feeling the legs were meant to fold up into the robot body on the original. The plastic is surprisingly pretty good quality here, too!
Only the bird head feels a bit suspect, in terms of plastic quality. Also, here’s a picture of the tiny head with the bird head helmet flipped down over it:
The other half of the jet:
The smaller robot that helps form the vehicle isn’t as fortunate in plastic quality, though, and is pretty flimsy and terrible. His legs can’t rotate like in the instructions, so I got a screwdriver, undid his torso, and reversed them manually. They also don’t fold down like they’re meant to, or his chest fold inwards, so he’s stuck with stumpy little legs and ridiculous robot-Gaston-muscle-arms. The pegs they’re on are minuscule, and feel like they’re gonna snap off at any second.
But he comes with a golden chromed sword! And he has a rocket falcon insignia thing on his chest. He’s also got two fins on his back that can fold up and down, but don’t affect his transformation at all.
Horusbot is going on a shelf. Knockofftimus Prime is going on my desk, where I can fiddle with it until it inevitably breaks. I don’t own the deluxe TFA Optimus, and it’s a fun mold. I’ll see if I can get the original once this KO has had it.
On the other hand, Stumpy is going in a box in his alt mode, in case I’m ever that desperate for a Tetrajet stand-in.